South Dakota Senate candidate compares food stamp recipients to wild animals via Facebook

In South Dakota, Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) is retiring.  Given the red nature of the state, it is widely viewed as a Republican pickup.  One of the Republican candidates for that seat is Dr. Annette Bosworth, and Bosworth has found herself in trouble after sharing this image on her personal Facebook page:


As a general rule, regardless of the party or the state, people don’t take kindly when Senate candidates compare the poor to animals.  Bosworth is also well behind in the latest poll taken of the race, which showed popular South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds in first (61%), followed by Stace Nelson (14%) and then Dr. Bosworth, at 8%.

Of course, the remark reeks of classism.  Bosworth, however, refused to apologize for the remark, saying she made it to start a conversation:

A picture with some words on it that you put on Facebook. What you’re trying to do is capture that short attention span of our country or our culture with a message to try and create discussion…For some reason it took fire. The comment is tongue in cheek. It is being taken quite literally…I’ve been in this race for ten months. It’s the first time some body’s slowed down to say ‘talk about food stamps, talk about what it does to people’, so if that’s what it takes then I’ll take the heat,” said Bosworth.

This is, of course, ridiculous. A candidate has no shortage of ways to start conversations about issues that are important to them: paid or earned media, campaign events and more measured social media posts are a few of the many possible examples.   Given the nature of the race, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was an intentional attempt to garner favor among the extreme right-wing of the South Dakota Republican electorate.  However, the post becomes even more mysterious, given Bosworth’s biography, in which she claims that she her practice serves many poor patients.  More to the point, if she was trying to “start a conversation” about food stamps, she failed, miserably.  The conversation has become about her and her judgement, not food stamps.

The post is also politically stupid and shows a lack of education about individuals who are on food stamps.  12.4% of South Dakota is on food stamps (31 of 50 in the nation).  Given the conservative and Republican nature of South Dakota politics, the law of averages would indicate that there are quite a few Republicans in the state who use food stamps…which means that Dr. Bosworth just insulted numerous potential voters.  Perhaps she was hoping to gain more voters than she lost with such a comment, but I wouldn’t bet on this being a winning strategy.

And yes, the post is still visible.

There is no escaping that what Dr. Bosworth did is a dumb idea in every sense of the word.  At least, that’s why I think.  How about you?  Anything to add?  Let us know in the comments!


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